Resurrecting and Improving the Lost Art of the Icebreaker

The icebreaker is a time-honored tradition. School assemblies, camp, work retreats, family reunions… we’ve all experienced them at some point or another. And it’s not as though no-one uses icebreakers any more. It’s more that we have ceased to appreciate them. Sometimes they are fun, but other times they are just something to get through, clenching your teeth in a grimace-like smile so that Karen from payroll doesn’t call you a stick in the mud.

Icebreakers, particularly for groups who will be spending a lot of time together in close quarters, are hugely important. Some can help you to get to know everyone, sure, but that’s more likely to happen at moments when you’re not forcing it. These little games are silly, funny, and just the right amount of revealing.

For the kind of traveling that we love, women traveling together in a group, these icebreakers can make your trip. But, given the modern disregard for icebreakers (tut tut) I have included, for each icebreaker, an improvement. A higher level. Something more challenging, more revealing, or just something a whole lot weirder… have fun!

icebreakers for group travel

The Icebreaker: Two Truths and a Lie

This icebreaker is a classic. You come up with two truths about yourself, and one lie, and write them down on paper. (This makes it easier to say them all with a straight face and not mix up the details.) You then tell everyone in the group these three things, and see who can guess what the lie is. Of course, it’s far more fun if you can come up with some weird, out of the box anecdotes for your truths in order to confuse the guessers.

…But Whose Truth?

This version (loosely based on a game show that I love, “Would I Lie to You”) mixes things up a bit – literally. Write your two truths and a lie down, each on their own individual scraps of paper. Then you take one of the truths and put it in a pile in the middle. Everyone draws from the pile. Now you have one truth and two lies – one of which is someone else’s truth. The challenge here is that you are not allowed to look at the new piece of paper until you read it out loud. Keep a straight face, no matter how odd the other person’s truth is, and you may still be able to trick everyone.

The Icebreaker: Find Something in Your Purse

This is a points game. Take a piece of paper, and write everyone’s names on it. Then pass it around; everyone has to write something next to their name that they think the average woman will have in her purse. (Everyone has to write something different.) Then elect someone (you can switch every round) to read out the items one by one. The first person to find the item in her purse gets three points. The person who wrote the item gets a point for every woman who has the item in her purse.

…Then Sell It!

Okay, who’s been involved in community theater? (Wait, why are you running for the door?) So to level this up, you still have to find items in your purse. Now, however, you have to sell them. Convincingly. Feel free to try a radio announcer’s voice, or offer a ridiculous deal. For an even funnier version, you have to advertise the item for any purpose other than the one it is supposed to serve. Dental floss, for example, might be advertised as “freshly scented mini-rope… for all your tiny DIY projects that need to smell good. For some reason.”

The Icebreaker: Throw the Name Ball

To start, have everyone wearing name tags. Then take a ball (or anything else you have on hand that can be easily thrown) and toss it to someone else as you say their name. After a few rounds of this, everyone has to remove their name tags. This time, make eye contact with the person and say their name before you throw, to give them a chance to shake their head if you were wrong. (No-one should embarrassed for making a mistake!)

…To The Wrong Person

Once you know everyone’s names, keep the name tags off. This time, you have to make eye contact with one person, say a second person’s name, and then throw to a third person altogether. (It is recommended that you use a soft ball for this version, as aiming can be difficult.)

The Icebreaker: Word Association

Another classic, and pretty simple. Someone starts by saying a word, then the next person says the first word that pops into their head as a result, and so on. You’ll start slow at first, but try to speed up as you go.

…Or Disassociation

This will take longer, but can be very amusing. (It’s based on a very odd song I once heard!) Try to think of a word that has nothing to with the word that was just said. It’s harder than you might expect!

The Icebreaker: You Have Been Given…

This can be a great get-to-know-you one. In turns, you ask everyone the question “you have been given____, what do you do with it?” They might have been given a million dollars, or a chance to go to the moon, or a vintage car. You can get more personal (though you might want to wait till a few days in). You might give them the chance to see a loved one who passed on just one more time, or the option to go back and speak to their childhood selves, or one more day to live. What would everyone choose to do with what they have been given?

…Something Extremely Odd

If that’s a little heavy, try this version: you still “give” everyone something, but it’s as weird as you can make it. “You have been given the cure to male pattern baldness, but only for men named Frank. What do you do with it?” Or they have been given the ability to make lobsters perform karaoke, or the power to float one inch off the ground. Detailed answers preferred!

Or Something Else Entirely

These are only a few suggestions. If any of them don’t feel like they’re clicking, you shouldn’t worry too much, just move on and find something else to do. Discovering what everyone is going to find fun is part of what makes icebreakers so great.

For women traveling in groups, it is always important to get to know one another. We often don’t have the option to do things on our own, and traveling in a pack can create some of the most memorable experiences you’ll make, as well as keeping you safe.

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Kate Downes

Kate is a freelance writer and travel blogger. Some people say it's a tough gig, but she has previously taught high school, worked retail, and been a bartender in London, and would take five thousand words on a deadline any day. You can find more of her work at readlongshorts.com and signedkateelizabeth.com.

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